Legal Document Automation Software Features and Benefits
By Mary Elizabeth Hammond
Bill Gates said, “The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency.” There are few industries that can benefit more from automation than legal.
Running a proficient law firm requires consistent drafting, editing, and sharing of documentation. Lawyers can automate many of these necessary but non-billable tasks by relying on legal document automation.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- An overview of legal document automation
- The top benefits of using automated legal forms and documents
- What to look for when choosing document automation software for lawyers
What is Legal Document Automation Software?
Legal document automation software is a technological system used to create, edit, and manage legal files on a large scale. Typically, this software uses pre-existing data to auto-populate a new document. Automated legal forms can be used to draft contracts, invoices, purchase agreements, leases, licenses, and more.
Document automation software for lawyers can be a standalone product or built into legal case management software.
Top Benefits of Document Automation for Lawyers
Implementing legal document automation tools in your law firm operations reduces the number of redundant and menial tasks that often plague legal work. Below are a few benefits of a robust legal document automation solution.
1. Fewer Errors
Drafting documents from scratch with manual data entry leaves room for mistakes. Automated legal documents minimize human error due to features such as auto-entry and file transfers.
For example, MyCase software allows firms to create templates for documents such as client intake/onboarding, invoicing, and case updates—eliminating manual entry mistakes. In addition, all documents are tied to a case, so each lawyer or team member assigned to a specific case will have all the information they need in real-time. Lawyers will also be in the know on any updates to case details or invoicing as it happens. This eliminates accidental duplicate entry of case documents.
2. Increased Efficiency
Streamlining workflows, administrative tasks, and client communication boosts your team’s efficiency and billable hours. With automated legal documents, your firm’s client intake forms, invoices, and other files are created in seconds. How?
The best document automation software for lawyers enables you to create workflow templates that keep cases in motion and automatically populate assignments with case information. For example with MyCase, workflows can be set to trigger each step of case processes such as client intake to onboarding and client invoicing to reminders. Additionally, many solutions allow you to make calendar updates, share, tag, and comment on documents in real-time—making collaboration a cinch.
3. Easier Client Onboarding
In this digital era, clients increasingly expect quick responses—especially if they are interested in or have questions for your law firm. But, as a busy lawyer, it can be difficult to stay consistent with client communications. Fortunately, automating workflows and tasks, like client intake and onboarding, allows your clients to easily stay in touch with your firm without sacrificing time out of your day.
For example, with MyCase client intake forms, automating legal documents is easy, as your firm can build and customize onboarding forms (per practice area). The intake forms embed directly into your website. Once a prospective client fills out the form, your firm is immediately notified. And if the client lead is ready to hire your firm, inputted information syncs directly to the platform to automatically create new client case files—preventing the need for manual entry and ensuring accuracy.
Five Essential Features to Look For in Legal Document Automation Software
When choosing the right document automation software for lawyers, look for the features listed below to ensure you get the most bang for your buck.
1. Electronic Signatures
The best document automation for lawyers includes electronic signatures or e-signatures—a quick and convenient way to collect legally binding agreements. Utilizing this technology enables lawyers to reduce non-billable time spent on physical document printing and follow-up for hard-copy signatures. When shopping for e-signature software, look for the following key benefits:
- Data protection: Security is essential. The best data protection comes from solutions that offer an audit trail and encryption.
- Status tracking: This feature notifies you when your document has been viewed, signed, declined, or voided—saving you time compared to manual follow-up.
- Editing capabilities: A built-in editor allows you to edit and collaborate on documents without leaving the application.
2. Remote Access
Remote (and secure) access to work is more important than ever. According to a report from the American Bar Association (ABA), nearly 90% of surveyed lawyers said that their firms allowed team members to work remotely. Adopting cloud-based software allows your team to securely access legal documents and communicate from anywhere.
For instance, MyCase Drive allows lawyers to access and manage files from the cloud. You can quickly jump on a laptop or mobile device to find and edit documents. Additionally, any changes made within MyCase or your desktop are automatically synced in real time.
Cloud Technology Myth-Busting
For more on cloud-based technology, read our myth-busting guide to learn the truths of the cloud’s impact on law firm efficiency.
3. Unlimited Storage
With the constant need to store documents, unlimited storage is a very valuable feature for law firms. Eliminate the time suck of tracking down important documents by using a reliable, centralized document storage solution. We recommend looking for unlimited cloud-based solutions with automatic cloud backups.
Bonus: For a deep dive into legal record storage options, refer to this article.
4. Document Sharing and Tracking
Your busy workflow consists of sending legal documents to clients and co-counsel, as well as meeting docketing deadlines. The best software systems offer easy and secure document sharing and collaboration.
In the 2021 MyCase Industry Report, approximately two-thirds of surveyed legal professionals said they use software to manage their firm’s documents. Additionally:
- 94% said that the tools made document sharing easier
- 92% claimed that the software made document collaboration easier
Ensure that you are on top of all of your legal documentation with a solution that sends auto-updates when documents have been viewed, edited, or shared—and allows you to control when those actions are possible.
Top-of-class security is necessary to safeguard the data contained in your documents. Ensure that any cloud-based software your firm uses complies with data privacy laws and ABA regulations.
Before investing in software, become familiar with their security measures. Consider asking:
- Where do they host and store your data?
- Who has access to the data?
- How robust are their servers and backup procedures?
- What type of encryption do they use?
- Do they utilize automatic cloud backups?
With MyCase data security, lawyers can control who can access highly confidential files and eliminate the risk of lost data. MyCase implements 128-bit SSL encryption to provide law firms with a secure connection to send and receive data. For additional security measures, all stored data is then encrypted with 256-bit AES encryption.
Choose The Best Document Automation Software for Lawyers
Improve your team’s efficiency and profitability with the best legal document automation tools. MyCase not only offers robust document automation for lawyers but also a full suite of legal case management features including:
- Time tracking
- Client intake
- A Client Portal
- Billing and payments
Learn why 14,000+ firms use MyCase for their document automation and practice management—get your free 10-day trial today.